Wednesday, January 20, 2016

What a trippple bill of classic silent films!

Over the years, I have found hundreds if not thousands of newspaper advertisements for Louise Brooks' films. Many of them are of little interest beyond the record of a Brooks' film having shown in a particular place on a particular date. But some stand out, especially if they note a premiere, an usual opening live act (like dancer George Raft, or pianist Art Tatum), or include unusual graphics.

Others stand out if they promote a Brooks' double bill - a somewhat rare occurance. Over the years, I have found a few vintage advertisements promoting Love Em and Leave Em with Just Another Blonde, or Now We're in the Air together with The City Gone Wild. In both instances, these paired films were likely shown together because they were released around the same time (not because Brooks was in both films).

Another double bill I once came across, dating from 1931, featured the Brooks' talkie It Pays to Advertise (1931) with G.W. Pabst's The White Hell of Pitz Palu (1929), starring Leni Reifenstahl. What did the movie patrons think of that odd pairing?

Here is one of the most distinguished advertisements I have ever found, a rather brilliant trippple bill.

From the Louise Brooks Society archive, a November 1930 newspaper advertisement for the Ursulines theater in Paris. The evening's program begins with G.W. Pabst's Joyless Street (1925), followed by Howard Hawk's A Girl in Every Port (1928) starring Louise Brooks, followed by G.W. Pabst's Diary of a Lost Girl (1929) starring Louise Brooks. Wow, what a line-up!

I wish I could have been there. . . . and, through the magic of the internet, I can, at least in my imagination. Here is an exterior and an interior view of what turns out to be a rather famous venue.

If I am not mistaken, this Ursulines theater survives, and thrives. In fact, it has an illustrious history as well as it's own Wikipedia page.

According to Wikipedia, Hawk's A Girl in Every Port premiered in Paris at the Ursulines. Also, "It is one of the oldest cinemas in Paris to have kept its facade and founder's vision" as a "venue for art and experimental cinema. The cinema opened January 21, 1926. Films by André Breton, Man Ray, Fernand Léger, René Clair and Robert Desnos were shown. In 1928, it premiered the first film of Germaine Dulac, taken from a story by Antonin Artaud, The Seashell and the Clergyman. The film was heckled by the surrealists, leading to a fight that stopped the screening."

Between 1926 and 1957, a range of now-classic films premiered at the theater, such as René Clair's Le Voyage Imaginaire and Erich Von Stroheim’s Greed." According to the wonderful Cinema Treasures website, "This little theatre with a balcony has a very charming facade looking like a romantic country house. At the beginning of talking movies, the premiere of Sternberg’s Blue Angel with Marlene Dietrich took place here, and ran 14 months."

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